This was not a failure,
Letting, a ragtag mob, bent on violence, storm the Capitol Building of the United States of America.
It was a purposeful act of domestic terrorism,
Incited by a sitting president who lost re-election,
No effective barricades erected before the assault
No forceful repudiation of the malcontents….white rage fueled by white privilege.
What we witnessed on January 6th, in the storming of the Capitol of the United States was the result of the refusal to call to account the traitorous actions of the adherents to the Confederacy and the continued inertia that allows White supremacy to remain embedded in US culture. We witnessed the spectre of the confederate battle flag in our Capitol building, a flag repurposed by the kkk to be a symbol of and call to White supremacy. Don’t say what happened is like Benghazi. It is exactly like the US. Let’s not forget Rosewood, Tulsa, and Wilmington.
Or Charlottesville and Lafayette Square this summer.
The Hayes/Tilden Compromise in 1876 reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to white supremacy. It marked the end of the already anemic attempts at Reconstruction. Black people were left to create their own pathways to be fully contributing citizens of the United States.
We saw the stark contrast between how Black, Brown, and Indigenous people engaged in peaceful protest are treated by law enforcement and how white protestors bent on disruption, destruction, and subversion at our Capitol are treated. Those of us who regularly experience acts of anti-Blackness are not surprised by these actions.
We cannot concede to injustice.
Why the surprise regarding the current president’s actions? Since the very inception of his presidency, he talked, tweeted, and acted to incite racial divisiveness, chaos, and disorder.
Georgia on the other hand represents what can happen when we mount resistance to White supremacists attempts to suppress the vote. The coalition of BIPOC voters and young voters in Georgia was the line of defense ensuring our Democracy.
The late Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm reminded us in Unbought and Unbossed (1970) that “[a]ll Americans are the prisoners of racial prejudice” and to address this:
We need men and women who have far greater abilities and far broader appeal than I will ever have, but who have my kind of independence – who will dare to declare that they are free of the old ways that have led us wrong, and who owe nothing to the traditional concentrations of capital and power that have subverted this nation’s ideals.
Make no mistake, Dr. Carol Anderson rightly also reminds us that white rage is real and that we, Black people, Indigenous people, and POC have the ability to negate that rage and excise out anti-Blackness through our resistance and by exercising our power to create a more just society through critique, education, and righteous actions.
“The major job was getting people to understand that they had something within their power that they could use, and it could only be used if they understood what was happening and how group action could counter violence…” – Ella Jo Baker – 1927 Graduate – Shaw University (https://ellabakercenter.org/who-was-ella-baker/ )
By Dr. Valerie Ann Johnson
Dean – School of Arts, Sciences, and Humanities-Shaw University, Raleigh, NC
Co-Director – Center for Racial and Social Justice at Shaw University
Chair – North Carolina African American Heritage Commission